Tag Archives: world building

Authors Answer 139 – Developing Setting

Last week, we talked about characters. But now they need a place. A well-rounded book has a setting. A good setting can create the atmosphere, whether it’s a real place or imagined. Real places are already established for the author, but they have to know it well. Imagined places require world building, and that can be a complex process. How do our authors tackle setting?

Question 139 – How do you develop the setting of your stories?

Gregory S. Close

I develop setting the same way that I develop characters, by establishing a history, economics, rules, laws, mores, religions, geography, species etcetera and then strictly adhering to that until I need to ignore it, modify it, or do whatever else serves the story best. There were a lot of things for In Siege of Daylight that shifted or changed altogether as the story came together, but having the solid foundation at the beginning allowed me the framework to be flexible when needed. Also, thinking thoroughly through things like economics and trade really add some realism and nuance to your cultures and countries.

Growing up, I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons. A LOT. This can be dangerous, because it can lock you in the stereotypes of RPG races and countries, but the mechanics of world-building really do come in handy when applied properly. Early version of the world of In Siege of Daylight were a campaign setting, and by fleshing out the world with adventures, characters and storylines that evolved unexpectedly it really helped develop the mythology and depth of the world.

For my science fiction setting of Greyspace, its a pretty similar method. I did a lot of research into space travel, emerging bio-tech, military tech, submarines (similar to spacecraft in terms of crew composition and psychology, and then a lot of different stuff on mythology and folklore for the magic elements. Again, a lot changed, but getting that solid footing for your world allows the leverage to pivot when you need to.

Cyrus Keith

Setting is dictated by the story line. On my first published novel, I set out to write a high-tech-hard sci-fi story. But the story line just refused to support it. There’s just so much going on all at once, the story would have been lost in the fog of all the gizmos and gadgets. My current WIP is set in a large city, because it features urban homeless people. As with characters, the specifics come about as the story develops. I don’t waste time on sketches and world-building because it changes as things come together, and I abhor “info dumps” that come with highly-developed worlds that authors are only too eager to show off.

Linda G. Hill

I have a hard time imagining settings, so I use real places to inspire me. Sometimes I name them (Kingston, Ontario, Canada is the main inspiration for the setting of my novel The Magician’s Curse), and sometimes I just observe and describe without making mention of where they are. I love to travel, and do so a lot just for the sake of my novels. In fact, I’m thinking about going to Edmonton in the coming months because the West Edmonton Mall is one of my settings. Maybe we can meet for coffee again, Jay Dee!

D. T. Nova

For the most part I’ve had setting made to fit the plot and characters, and not really standing out otherwise. I’ve been trying to change that and have more interesting settings.

Paul B. Spence

Usually in giant brainstorming sessions. It grows in leaps and bounds, and the options for stories to tell grows exponentially. I have a lot of basic information compiled from over the years.

C E Aylett

Um, same answer as last week? Research. Lots of it. Setting and character can be quite closely connected in the ways they connect and contrast. I have a class on how to build character from setting on Skillshare.

Beth Aman

Sometimes I just write them. Sometimes I’ll kinda prep ahead of time by drawing certain places or objects, or by making lists of sounds and smells of places. Then when I go to write them, I try to remember that settings should use all five senses, and that they should add to the general mood/ feeling of the scene. Often times, I have a lot of work to do in the editing process, because I’ll be so caught up in writing the story that I forget to fully flesh-out the setting. It’s a multi-step process, and I’m always going back and working on it.

Jean Davis

In my first draft, settings are generally utilitarian, whatever is needed to make the scene happen. Most of my focus is on dialogue and action. There might be a couple distinctive characteristics to help me solidify what I see in my head while I’m writing. If the characters end up there more than once, I’ll probably add more details in that first draft and pull it all together with a more polished description during the first major edit.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

A large chunk of my writing, thus far, has been based within the real world, and so I’ve gone about my setting development by simply describing places I’ve actually been. “Nowhere to Hide“, for instance, has the characters moving about in a zombie-infested version of modern-day Earth, so without actually naming specific places, I simply had my characters move around in towns and areas I’ve actually been and worked from there. The beginning of “The Other World: Book One” is similar; the high school I describe is based on the college I actually went to, and the town Tori lives in is based on the town where I grew up. Moving outside of the real world is more difficult of course, which I learned with the rest of “The Other World: Book One“. I find it difficult to to “make up” settings, so I tend to stick to my “real world” method, while adding in “fantastic” elements. Such as, for instance, the scene in which Tori first realizes she’s in a parallel universe: the setting is a simple field with a small cabin, but when she looks up, the stars above come in a variety of shining colors.

H. Anthe Davis

I’ve spent almost two decades developing just one setting, so it’s hard to say how that gestated (beside a bunch of notes in a high school journal that I just started adding onto infinitely). However, I’ve been developing a new setting on the side for a few years, in dribs and drabs, so… I guess it just starts with a core idea or problem to solve (for instance, make a world where zombies/undead are reanimated by ‘tainted’ water) then spin off of it to find the logic and culture that gets wrapped around the concept. Like…what is it about the water that does this reanimation? (It’s a goddess-of-undeath’s blood.) How did it get that way? (Enemies of the locals killed her, it’s her revenge.) Who were the enemies and who are the locals? (Enemies from overseas, locals etc etc…) What conflicts does this produce? What story seeds does it create? How many of those seeds can grow into the background-jungle of the main story, to add complexity to the world and themes but not entirely impinge upon the plot? Then, after I deal with most of those questions, I start researching and image-browsing for stuff that aesthetically suits the idea in my head, to build the visual facade of the setting over the bones of the stories it contains.

Eric Wood

When I start to write a story, the setting comes to me in pieces while I write, much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I know what the final image will look like, but the details fit themselves in during the writing process. Most of my stories take place during modern times in a fictional location. Then I just make up the rest as I go along.

Jay Dee Archer

I enjoy writing stories on other worlds, both science fiction and fantasy. I do a lot of world building. For my Ariadne setting, I started out with the concept, and then I drew a world map. After that, I drew another map with 16 sheets of paper. I created mountains, rivers, seas, oceans, ice caps, and climate zones. I then created countries and cities, expanding the colony organically. I focused on a handful of places that are important for the first book. Although I haven’t done so yet, I plan on drawing city maps and any maps of important locations. You see, I love maps, and they help me visualise places much more vividly and with consistency.

How about you?

If you’re an author, how do you develop setting? Let us know in the comments below.

A Big Anniversary! The Jay Dee Show 23

Today marks a major anniversary in Japan and for me personally. I had a couple big videos this week, but I only uploaded a total of 3. There’s another I may be able to get up tonight, though.

On my main channel, I only uploaded one video (another coming soon). This video is a continuation of my world building series. This time, it’s about making calendars for sci-fi and fantasy worlds.

And then, moving on to the science channel, I have two new videos, including a science news video and my first video dedicated to a single science topic. The first video is a weekly science news video featuring stories about Hyperloop, Mars, and the white rhino that was killed by poachers.

The second video is a science video about the big earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011.

The next week will feature only one science video, though I’ll probably start preparing the April A to Z videos. I’ll also be doing some regular booktube videos.

Which video did you enjoy the most?

Here Comes the Science! The Jay Dee Show 22

I’ve still been pretty busy recently, so not as many videos as I’d like. However, I uploaded 6 videos, 3 for each channel. On my main channel, I was able to do some regular videos, though I missed out on the Authors Answer video due to a very busy day and company being over. My science channel had its first 3 videos, including a science news video.

For the main channel, I started off with a brief wrap up for February and a TBR for March.

I then moved on to the World Building series with a video about how to create the planet.

And then the regular Retro Book Review. This time, it was 2010: Odyssey Two.

Moving on to the science channel, I uploaded a couple introductory videos and the first actual science video. Starting off is the channel trailer.

And then I uploaded a channel introduction video.

And then my weekly science news video. In this one, the background is kind of cheap-looking. I really would like a better quality camera, microphone, and backdrop. It was a pretty brief video, too. But check it out, please!

Over the next week, I should have 3 videos for the science channel and around 3 or 4 for my main channel. And of course, I’d love it if you subscribed to my science channel.

Let me know which videos you enjoyed in the comments section below.

New Thumbnails! The Jay Dee Show 20

Upgrading! There have been a few changes to the channel. The biggest one you’ll notice is that the thumbnails have completely changed! Second thing is that I’ve started using Filmora, but only for one video so far. And third is a new series about World Building. But there’s more to come this coming week on both channels. That’s right, both channels!

On my main channel, I uploaded 5 videos, all with new thumbnails. They’re bolder and look a lot cleaner, I think.

First up is my latest Star Trek Project video with a review of episode 9, “Dagger of the Mind.” Check it out!

Next up is the first world building video. In this one, I introduce the series.

And the same day, I uploaded episode 1 of the world building series, this one talking about how to choose the star for your new world. I used Filmora to edit this video. It uses an overlay!

Up next is my regular weekly Retro Book Review, now with an all new thumbnail. The review is for The Great Hunt, by Robert Jordan. Loved the book! Check out the review.

And finally, the regular weekly Authors Answer video. And this one is all about different types of publishing.

There was nothing for my science channel, but I have recorded a couple videos that will be up in the next few days. Those are the channel trailers for my main channel and the science channel. As time permits, I’ll be recording an introductory video for the science channel, as well. Due to a busy work schedule, there will be few videos over the next week.

So, what did you think of the new thumbnails? Let me know what you think of them in the comments below. And also let me know which videos you enjoyed.

World Building Now on Video

I’ve started adapting my world building posts for video! I’ll be bringing the information to a whole new audience. For those of you who haven’t read my world building posts yet, you can also watch the videos.

Here’s the introductory video, which I never made a post about:

But the second video, or should I say the first episode, is based on a blog post. You’ll find that the post is more detailed, but the video has the most important points. Check out how to choose a star.

This is also the first series of videos I’m making that uses thumbnails that I hope will be eyecatching. Let me know what you think.

Week in Review – February 12, 2017

My cold got worse, then it got better. But that’s how it goes, right? But big things have been happening in the past week. Something new is coming very soon!


I’ve made a little progress reading, but not much. I’m now at 7% in Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan. I’ll be taking the bus more this week, so I expect more.


No writing, but I’m working on some world building. And that’s another story for another section below.


There’s been an improvement here. On my main channel, I posted 3 videos. However, there’s a big video coming this week. My first world building video! My science channel is coming around, as well. No videos yet, but I’ve got my channel trailer planned, and I’ll also be doing a lot of videos in April for the A to Z Challenge.


Nothing. Major revamp coming very soon!


Nothing, but I noticed that Japanese is finally going to be coming on Duolingo.

The Blog

Like I mentioned before, I’ll be doing the A to Z Challenge in April, and my focus will be on science. I’ll be doing a 10 facts list for each science topic, plus videos that’ll be on my science channel.



The Next Week’s Goals

I should have 6 videos going up on my main channel this week, and I plan on making the channel trailer for my science channel. On the blog, the usual will be happening, but I’d like to do another Read the World post, as well as more Star Trek.

How was your week?

Back to World Building

World building is an important part of fantasy and sometimes science fiction. Creating new worlds is a very complex task, and it’s something I enjoy a lot. On this blog, I’ve been writing about world building. You can check out what I’ve done so far here.

I’ve made some big plans for it, which I talked about before. I have many topics I want to talk about and go through in detail. I started out very scientifically, but much of what I’ll be doing deals with society, culture, laws, and even things like magic. There are many areas to research and present.

In addition to blog posts, I’ll be doing videos that correspond with each blog post. What I’ll be able to do on video is show you a bit more about the process. I’ll be starting off with choosing a star, then moving on to developing the planet, and a bit of a side video talking about creating a calendar for an alien world.

But if you check out the post I’ve done before, I asked about what else you would like to see. So, if you have any suggestions, then please let me know in the comments below.

Back to Normal? Short and Long Term Goals

Now that we’re back from holiday, and I still have a couple days off from work, I can get back to work on everything. I’ve already written about plans for 2016, but I want to make some more specific things clear.

First of all, some immediate goals.

  • Catch up on comments.
  • Month in Review for December.
  • Weekly Review for the end of December/beginning of January.
  • A major project that will consist of only one post. It should come later today.

Now some long term goals.

  • Authors Answer will continue weekly, despite my time away from computers and the internet in late March/early April. I’ll just have the posts scheduled.
  • Quick Facts will be weekly, and maybe at some point bi-weekly.
  • Put up the Taste of Japan videos regularly.
  • Make Life in Japan videos based on the posts I’ve done on this blog.
  • Write regularly after our move to Canada
  • Read every day at home, and hopefully read 25 books this year.
  • Regularly update my parenting blog this year.
  • Get back to work on my Japan blog.
  • Keep my official author’s site updated every month.
  • Get a domain name for my official author’s site?
  • Start on some major content for my official author’s site.
  • Worldbuilding posts every week.
  • Study French every day.
  • Study Japanese every day.
  • Study Spanish occasionally until I finish French on duolingo. Then every day.
  • Get a car.
  • Get a new job in Canada.
  • Write multiple short stories and flash fiction.
  • Enter a couple writing competitions.
  • Join the recreation centre near our Canada home and try skating and swimming often.

Some specific aspects:

Worldbuilding – I’ve done so few posts on this, but I have so many to do. I’d like to work on writing these weekly. I have a list of topics to write about, and it’ll be extremely thorough.

Writing – Journey to Ariadne needs to be completed this year. I will also start on the first Ariadne novel and possibly the solar system novella series.

Languages – I will complete the test drives, and whenever any new language comes out, I’ll test drive that, as well. But for now, finish the course on duolingo for French while also doing Spanish at a slower pace. Once French is done, work on the reverse course and do Spanish every day while I study German at a slow pace. This pattern continues. Once I finish Spanish, German takes over, and I start Irish. Once German is finished, Irish is my focus, and I start on Norwegian. Then Russian, and so on.

Quick Facts – I’ll resume working on Astronomy Quick Facts, focusing on the moons of the solar system. I also want to get started on Geography, which will go through the countries of the world alphabetically. The other one I’d like to work on is Dinosaurs, also alphabetically.

At the beginning of the year, I feel ambitious. I just wonder if I can do all of this. These are just plans, so I can’t guarantee if they’ll all happen. I can hope.

Anything interesting catch your eye?

Mission Statement – Writing

The third part of my mission statement has to do with the biggest aspect of this blog — writing. I use this blog to talk about writing, show my own writing, and direct your attention to my official blog for my writing.

With my efforts to refocus and organise everything for the new year, much of this will be unchanged for writing, but I will work on a regular series. Here are some of the things you can expect to see.


I’ve already done a few articles on worldbuilding, but have been silent on that for a while. I’m going to work on getting a weekly or biweekly series on worldbuilding going. You can see the current articles here, and some plans for future worldbuilding articles here. There’s a lot to write about.

Flash Fiction

I haven’t done much of this lately, either. I plan to get back into it and try a weekly flash fiction story about pretty much anything.


Journey to Ariadne hasn’t seen any progress lately, but that’s mainly due to trying to focus on the move to Canada. After the move, I should have a lot more time and more privacy. I’ll be doing a lot more then. However, there are some other things that I’ll start writing up for the official blog, though I will link to them from here. This is what you can expect to see:

  • Character profiles
  • Country profiles (though this will be limited to physical geography for the time being)
  • Animal and plant life
  • Artwork

Other Writing

I will post about writing as usual about various topics. There’s no particular focus here. Mainly what comes to mind.

What are you interested in seeing? Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments below.

Tinkering and Geekery

Have you noticed anything different in the menu bar above? Probably not, because not much has changed. I tweaked the order of the items so it’s easier to view some of the nested menu options.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be making a few more minor changes to streamline things. But I’ll also be making another change. Not so much a change, but more like a focus. All of the topics you see here are related to science, knowledge, and speculative fiction. Sounds geeky, doesn’t it? Recently, my blog posts have been all over the place about many different subjects. I want a better focus. I’ll be doing a lot on various geeky topics, which isn’t really a change at all. The big thing is going to be Quick Facts, which I’ll try to make into a weekly series. Or maybe biweekly. It really depends. Also, I’d like to make my Worldbuilding series into a weekly feature.

These changes will help keep fans of science and fantasy/sci-fi worldbuilding coming back regularly. I’ll probably start them in the new year, though don’t be surprised if something happens before then.

What are you interested in seeing?